Bible Tuesday – Revelation Part 34

I think if you’ve been with me on this since week one (and if so, God luv ya!) you can begin to understand why some people are just not big fans of the book of Revelation.  I can readily admit that this book has probably been more misused, mis-preached and misunderstood than any other portion of scripture.  But that’s no good excuse to give up.  So let’s keep going.

 

One of the Seven Angels who carried the seven bowls came and invited me, “Come, I’ll show you the judgment of the great Whore who sits enthroned over many waters, the Whore with whom the kings of the earth have gone whoring, show you the judgment on earth dwellers drunk on her whorish lust.”

In the Spirit he carried me out in the desert. I saw a woman mounted on a Scarlet Beast. Stuffed with blasphemies, the Beast had seven heads and ten horns. The woman was dressed in purple and scarlet, festooned with gold and gems and pearls. She held a gold chalice in her hand, brimming with defiling obscenities, her foul fornications. A riddle-name was branded on her forehead: great babylon, mother of whores and abominations of the earth. I could see that the woman was drunk, drunk on the blood of God’s holy people, drunk on the blood of the martyrs of Jesus.

Revelation 17:1-6

Alrighty then.

 Astonished, I rubbed my eyes. I shook my head in wonder.

Apparently John and I are on the same page here which makes me feel a bit better.

The Angel said, “Does this surprise you? Let me tell you the riddle of the woman and the Beast she rides, the Beast with seven heads and ten horns. The Beast you saw once was, is no longer, and is about to ascend from the Abyss and head straight for Hell. Earth dwellers whose names weren’t written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world will be dazzled when they see the Beast that once was, is no longer, and is to come.

“But don’t drop your guard. Use your head. The seven heads are seven hills; they are where the woman sits. They are also seven kings: five dead, one living, the other not yet here—and when he does come his time will be brief. The Beast that once was and is no longer is both an eighth and one of the seven—and headed for Hell.

The ten horns you saw are ten kings, but they’re not yet in power. They will come to power with the Scarlet Beast, but won’t last long—a very brief reign. These kings will agree to turn over their power and authority to the Beast. They will go to war against the Lamb but the Lamb will defeat them, proof that he is Lord over all lords, King over all kings, and those with him will be the called, chosen, and faithful.”

The Angel continued, “The waters you saw on which the Whore was enthroned are peoples and crowds, nations and languages. And the ten horns you saw, together with the Beast, will turn on the Whore—they’ll hate her, violate her, strip her naked, rip her apart with their teeth, then set fire to her. It was God who put the idea in their heads to turn over their rule to the Beast until the words of God are completed. The woman you saw is the great city, tyrannizing the kings of the earth.”

Revelation 17:6-14

 The Great Whore is Babylon which may be a real place or may just be a symbol of heathen type behavior everywhere. As for the rest…Ya’ll, I just have no idea.  And, you know what?  I could find out.  I could research this and really get an informed answer for you.  But until we actually have a world leader that promises peace, gets killed and then COMES BACK TO LIFE!, I’m not sure it’s of utmost important to parse every detail of this paragraph.

 

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Blogress

So remember how I used to do book reviews?  I’m using that term pretty loosely.  I mainly said stuff like” This book changed my life” or “This book was el stinko” and honestly, almost all books fall into those two categories.  So to save time I am changing things up.  If I read and like a book, you will see the cover on left side of the blog.  If I hate it, I will pretend it doesn’t exist.  If you are desperate for my opinion on a book, by all means, send me a message.  I live to serve.

Other than that, this blog will continue to be about kids, weight loss and Jesus.  I literally have no interest in anything else so I decided to stop pretending.

But this does bring us to an area I am wrestling with.

Hang with me.

First, read this article.

If you don’t read it, at least read this because it’s the heart of the matter.

So we continue to tell people this is what you should believe about marriage and this is what you need to know about doctrine and this is what your idolatry looks like. But because we never train them in the Scriptures, they have no framework to attach these exhortations to beyond their church membership or their pastor’s personality or their group leader’s opinion. More importantly, they have no plumb line to measure these exhortations against. It never occurs to them to disagree with what they are being taught because they cannot distinguish between our interpretation of Scripture and Scripture itself, having little to no firsthand knowledge of what it says.

The very first Bible study I ever participated in was about the book of John. I was so incredibly blessed to be taught by women who revered scripture.  It was real to them and they made it real to me. This is the first scripture I ever studied.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

John 1:1-5

Understand that I studied this as a straight up heathen but those words had power then and they have power now.  In my Christian life I have been confused about many things but the authority of scripture and the importance of discipleship is not one of them.

Now hear me out before you get all offended.  If you encounter someone who is sick, hurting, hungry or alone then, no, you shouldn’t be quoting the Bible to them. But you should be the Bible to them. And how can you do that if you have no idea what is says? Where did we get the idea that the two could be separated? I assure you it wasn’t from Jesus.

“Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. I am going to put it all together, pull it all together in a vast panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.“Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

Matthew 5:17-20

 

Here’s the hard truth. I want to be known for love but  I want above all to be known for Jesus.  And I don’t think love can be defined outside of the framework of Christ.  I want to love people and have them see Jesus in me through that love.  I don’t want people to praise me or my church.  I want them to praise God.

 

And I fully believe that discipleship and outreach can be balanced in a way that honors the God we serve.  I don’t think it is either/or.  It is absolutely possible to serve as the hands and feet of Jesus in this world that needs it so badly while nurturing our own relationship with God at the same time.

I could go on here for approximately 10,673 pages.  But I love you…so I won’t.

So back to my original thought (assuming I had one?)

Bible Tuesday will keep coming several times a month.  I would love to be more consistent but often I am not steering the ship around here.  Let’s hope for the best and see if we can finish Revelation before Armageddon.

Bible Thursday will be a new series I hope to devote some time to.  Basically I have a large (and growing!)collection of scripture that I feel is important or interesting or both.  I collect these bits and pieces as I read and never quite know what to do with them. They are generally short passages that need little or no commentary.  And it’s always nice to just let the Bible speak for itself rather than having it interpreted by a chubby housewife such as myself.

So basically I’m praying that God uses something you read here to draw you in and create a hunger in you for Bible study.  It’s an incredible adventure.  I’d hate for you to miss it.

 

 

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Bible Tuesday – Revelation Part 33

OK, so last week was very bad.

This week ain’t much better.  Let’s see what we got.

The sixth Angel poured his bowl on the great Euphrates River: It dried up to nothing. The dry riverbed became a fine roadbed for the kings from the East. From the mouths of the Dragon, the Beast, and the False Prophet I saw three foul demons crawl out—they looked like frogs. These are demon spirits performing signs. They’re after the kings of the whole world to get them gathered for battle on the Great Day of God, the Sovereign-Strong.

Revelation 16:12-14

I won’t pretend to know what John is describing here but let’s try to keep in mind that John is a first century fisherman.  He has no concept of missiles or airplanes or tanks or any other modern warfare equipment.  And it’s possible John is describing something so far into our future that even we can’t imagine it.

And lookie here.

“Keep watch! I come unannounced, like a thief. You’re blessed if, awake and dressed, you’re ready for me. Too bad if you’re found running through the streets, naked and ashamed.”

Revelation 15:15

This is Jesus speaking and he is warning his followers to pay attention.  I don’t think Jesus intends for us to be obsessed with end times.  But I also don’t think he wants us to be stupid.  So if you feel the need to keep a year’s worth of fruit cocktail in your basement, knock yourself out.

 The frog-demons gathered the kings together at the place called in Hebrew Armageddon.

The seventh Angel poured his bowl into the air: From the Throne in the Temple came a shout, “Done!” followed by lightning flashes and shouts, thunder crashes and a colossal earthquake—a huge and devastating earthquake, never an earthquake like it since time began. The Great City split three ways, the cities of the nations toppled to ruin. Great Babylon had to drink the wine of God’s raging anger—God remembered to give her the cup! Every island fled and not a mountain was to be found. Hailstones weighing a ton plummeted, crushing and smashing men and women as they cursed God for the hail, the epic disaster of hail.

Revelation 16:17-21

Friends…there is coming a day when God is going to say “Done!”  It may be tomorrow.  It may be ten million years from now.  But that day is coming.

 

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Bible Tuesday – Revelation Part 32

Then I saw the doors of the Temple, the Tent of Witness in Heaven, open wide. The Seven Angels carrying the seven disasters came out of the Temple. They were dressed in clean, bright linen and wore gold vests. One of the Four Animals handed the Seven Angels seven gold bowls, brimming with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. Smoke from God’s glory and power poured out of the Temple. No one was permitted to enter the Temple until the seven disasters of the Seven Angels were finished.

Revelation 15:5-8

Just kinda have to assume things are about to get terrible-er.

I heard a shout of command from the Temple to the Seven Angels: “Begin! Pour out the seven bowls of God’s wrath on earth!” The first Angel stepped up and poured his bowl out on earth: Loathsome, stinking sores erupted on all who had taken the mark of the Beast and worshiped its image.

Ugh

The second Angel poured his bowl on the sea: The sea coagulated into blood, and everything in it died.

Just try to imagine what that smell will be like.  Blood and dead fish.  Mercy.

The third Angel poured his bowl on rivers and springs: The waters turned to blood. I heard the Angel of Waters say,

Righteous you are, and your judgments are righteous,
The Is, The Was, The Holy.
They poured out the blood of saints and prophets
so you’ve given them blood to drink—
they’ve gotten what they deserve!

Just then I heard the Altar chime in,

Yes, O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Your judgments are true and just!

Now all the water has turned to blood.

The fourth Angel poured his bowl on the sun: Fire blazed from the sun and scorched men and women. Burned and blistered, they cursed God’s Name, the God behind these disasters. They refused to repent, refused to honor God.

How much worse can this get?

The fifth Angel poured his bowl on the throne of the Beast: Its kingdom fell into sudden eclipse. Mad with pain, men and women bit and chewed their tongues, cursed the God-of-Heaven for their torment and sores, and refused to repent and change their ways.

Nevermind.

That’s enough for today.

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Bible Tuesday – Revelation Part 31

I looked up, I caught my breath!—a white cloud and one like the Son of Man sitting on it. He wore a gold crown and held a sharp sickle. Another Angel came out of the Temple, shouting to the Cloud-Enthroned, “Swing your sickle and reap. It’s harvest time. Earth’s harvest is ripe for reaping.” The Cloud-Enthroned gave a mighty sweep of his sickle, began harvesting earth in a stroke.

Then another Angel came out of the Temple in Heaven. He also had a sharp sickle. Yet another Angel, the one in charge of tending the fire, came from the Altar. He thundered to the Angel who held the sharp sickle, “Swing your sharp sickle. Harvest earth’s vineyard. The grapes are bursting with ripeness.”

The Angel swung his sickle, harvested earth’s vintage, and heaved it into the winepress, the giant winepress of God’s wrath. The winepress was outside the City. As the vintage was trodden, blood poured from the winepress as high as a horse’s bridle, a river of blood for two hundred miles.

Revelation 14:14-16

 

Do you know how tall a horse is?  God’s wrath is going to produce blood as high as a horse’s bridle.  A TWO HUNDRED MILE RIVER OF BLOOD!  I would really like to assume that this is just some poetic imagery John is using to make a point.  But good grief, it is oddly specific.  And it’s just hard to imagine giving this many details if he was just trying to make the point that ‘there is gonna be a lot of blood.’  But clearly I don’t know one way or the other.

I saw another Sign in Heaven, huge and breathtaking: seven Angels with seven disasters. These are the final disasters, the wrap-up of God’s wrath.

Revelation 15:1

I think we have to assume that the ‘wrap-up’ of God’s wrath is going to be worse than all the stuff that has aready happened.  And, yeah, I guess that means worse than the TWO HUNDRED MILE RIVER OF BLOOD.

I saw something like a sea made of glass, the glass all shot through with fire. Carrying harps of God, triumphant over the Beast, its image, and the number of its name, the saved ones stood on the sea of glass. They sang the Song of Moses, servant of God; they sang the Song of the Lamb:

Mighty your acts and marvelous,
O God, the Sovereign-Strong!
Righteous your ways and true,
King of the nations!
Who can fail to fear you, God,
give glory to your Name?
Because you and you only are holy,
all nations will come and worship you,
because they see your judgments are right.

Then I saw the doors of the Temple, the Tent of Witness in Heaven, open wide. The Seven Angels carrying the seven disasters came out of the Temple. They were dressed in clean, bright linen and wore gold vests. One of the Four Animals handed the Seven Angels seven gold bowls, brimming with the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. Smoke from God’s glory and power poured out of the Temple. No one was permitted to enter the Temple until the seven disasters of the Seven Angels were finished.

Revelation 15:2-8

Before we get to this ‘wrathmageddon’, we get a brief respite.  This ‘Song of the Lamb’ is not in this spot by accident.  It’s here to remind us that the coming horror is a righteous judgement. And it’s probably important to take a minute to remind ourselves of just that.  Revelation is not the story of a mean God getting his revenge on humanity.  It’s the story of a righteous, long suffering, forgiving and loving God bringing about a conclusion and a new beginning.  Trust me when I tell you that none of us will be innocent victims.

 

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